Obituary: Herbert F. Hitzeman Jr., senior vice chancellor emeritus, 81

Herbert F. Hitzeman Jr., senior vice chancellor emeritus and chief architect of the nation’s first campaign by a university to exceed $500 million, died Jan. 16, 2009. He was 81.

Under Hitzeman’s leadership, Washington University completed three successful fund-raising campaigns, culminating in the Alliance for Washington University, which raised $630.5 million upon its completion in December 1987. At that time, the Alliance campaign was the first campus-based campaign in United States history to raise more than $500 million.


At the time of his retirement in 1990, Hitzeman had become one of the most successful fund-raisers in the history of American higher education. During his more than two decades at Washington University, he raised in excess of $1 billion in gift support.

A lifelong resident of St. Louis and a graduate of Washington University, where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1953, Hitzeman returned to Washington University 13 years later as an entry-level development officer in 1966.

During his 24 years at Washington University, Hitzeman designed and implemented the University’s development and alumni programs. Under his leadership, total yearly giving to the University increased from about $5 million annually in the late 1960s to approximately $50 million annually by fiscal year 1989. He also oversaw the revitalization of the overall public relations program, which significantly improved the University’s national recognition. Today, Washington University is ranked among America’s top dozen research universities.

Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, who worked with Hitzeman for two decades, said, “It is hard to imagine Washington University’s successes without the significant leadership of Herb Hitzeman. He secured gifts for literally thousands of student scholarship recipients, many endowed professorships for our faculty, major support for our teaching and research programs, and much-needed resources for building projects. Were it not for Herb Hitzeman’s efforts, Washington University would be a lesser institution today.”

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said, “In many ways, Herb Hitzeman’s strong support and dedication to Washington University throughout the years has touched every person here. He was a great friend and creative contributor to our University. His commitment to our teaching and research mission will have an impact for generations to come.”

In 1968, Hitzeman was named director of the University’s “Seventy By ‘Seventy’ ” Campaign, after serving as director of the campaign’s medical and alumni phases. The $70 million goal was reached a year ahead of schedule in 1969, the same year he was promoted to be the University’s overall director of development.

He was promoted to associate vice chancellor in 1970, and, under his leadership, the Alumni Board of Governors was organized to strengthen relations between the University’s graduates, the University and its Board of Trustees.

From 1973-76, Hitzeman headed a second major campaign that raised $120 million and was successfully completed two years ahead of schedule. Hitzeman was promoted to vice chancellor in 1975 and was ultimately named senior vice chancellor for university relations in 1983.

Additionally, in preparation for the Alliance campaign, Hitzeman established the Commission on the Future of Washington University, which consisted of 10 task forces and included University trustees and administrators and key alumni, friends and academic leaders from across the nation. Members of the task forces studied the various schools and units of the University and made recommendations to the Board of Trustees on programs to significantly strengthen all of the schools of the University. The task forces continue today as National Councils — ongoing advisory groups to the schools and units of the University.

In 2007, he and his wife, Jane, established the Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr., Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

In 1991, Hitzeman received the University’s distinguished alumni award and also was honored with the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s prestigious Search Award.

Upon his retirement in 1990, the University dedicated the Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Residence Hall in his honor and, in 2005, established the Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Leadership Award, given annually to a resident of the hall.

The Hitzemans have been fellows of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, a philanthropic organization that Hitzeman helped expand to encourage increased annual giving to Washington University.

Active in community affairs, Hitzeman was elected to serve as a member and secretary of the board of education of the then-newly consolidated Parkway School District.

Hitzeman was president and chairman of the board of the United Cerebral Palsy Association. He was chairman of the building committee of award-winning Trinity Lutheran Church in Town and Country. He also served as a member and chairman of the board of education of Trinity Lutheran School. He also was a board member of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

He was volunteer consultant to the board and staff of the Saint Louis Science Center during the planning and development of that institution. He served as adviser to the St. Louis Archdiocese for their Today and Tomorrow Campaign.

From 1945-48, Hitzeman served on active duty as a radioman, first class, in the U.S. Coast Guard, patrolling in the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea. In 1950, he was an organizing member of the Coast Guard Reserve Unit in St. Louis.

Hitzeman and his wife, Jane, were avid sailors and longtime members of the Carlyle Yacht Club. He served as officer and director and was elected commodore in 1989.

In 1983, Hitzeman, his wife, and his son, John, incorporated American Model Builders Inc., a company that builds models and prototypes for architects, engineers, business, television and industry. Under the name LASERKitTM, it produces a line of scale model kits for hobbyists and modelers worldwide. Since 1990, the company has been owned and operated by his son, John. However, Hitzeman continued as a consultant to the company until the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jane Reuter Hitzeman, as well as: son John Hitzeman; grandchildren John P. Hitzeman and Molly E. Hitzeman; sister Lois Jean Whitesitt (nee Hitzeman); and nieces and nephews.

A memorial service for Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. at Washington University’s Graham Chapel is being planned and will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Washington University for the Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr., Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.